Nikki and I have spent the past four New Years together now and this was our third in the mountains. Returning from vacation spent with our families, the heavy snows that hit while we were away had started to settling out and the the resort was tracked. We laid eyes on getting out of the office for a long weekend of touring in what snow we had missed. With Nikki’s new touring setup in hand, we decided to start local and ride Newton Canyon after some warm up laps on Meadows. Meadows rode surprisingly well on Wednesday before New Years and for some reason, God’s wall had fresh snow on it. What a great way to start a five day adventure.
I had never ventured up Newton Canyon on the east side of the Meadows boundary line before. Ben, Nikki and I found it to be a long walk from the HRM parking lot with little vertical gain along the way. Patience paid off though and the trees eventually opened to a big open bowl with a 30 plus degree pitch. The snow was great and the views amazing. No complaints for our first tracks in a new zone. We dropped in to the west facing wall and exited out onto the cat track to ride the flats all the way back to the car.
Day two started in Bend after a traffic ridden drive south from Hood the night before. We coffee up at our favorite stop in Sisters, Oregon grabbing the last of the supplies before spending a cold night at the Tam McArther Rim trailhead. Nikki and I wanted a repeat of last year’s New Years but better equipped to get more turns. We got a repeat alright. The cold weather was back as well. The frost on the trees as we drove out towards the trailhead was our first indication of what we were in for. Our -4 degree wake up in Kelso’s unheated Van New years say was a rough one. I retreated to the snowmobiler warming hut at 6:30am to start a fire and try to defrost all our frozen water.
Thursday and Friday at Tam held awesome turns for us with good friends. We rode with Ben, Nate and Zach, primarily in the lookers left bowl. Late starts and late exits seemed to be our game. We made three runs each day before sled exiting out of the backcountry with beautiful evening light cast across the Central Oregon cascades. Thursday was quiet and sunny allowing some laps from the top before winds scoured the uppers. Friday we hunted for steep tree runs, which Tam has plenty of.
I love this shot below (and the shot above as well). We definitely weren’t the first group up there but they all left fresh turns for the taking. The next day I was looking across the bowl from a sheltered run and could still see my rock drop track on the looker’s left side of this face. That kept me fired up for the rest of the weekend.
Day four on boards we heading deeper south to a volcano that had been on my “must-ride” list for years. With Dave as our tour guide, we rolled around the various faces getting a look at the intimidating terrain. Single digit weather and short winter days presented a sobering and eerie mood as we looked up from below the peak. The winds had done too much damage for there to be any good riding via sleds. We made one sled lap from the summit but the ride down was a bit rough. The amazing 360° views from the summit and the sled exploration of the various aspects made up for our minimal riding.
What better way to end a long weekend than to heat things up at Nate and Rya’s? Kelso lead us in some cheap beer drinking activities, which allowed for a rare reunion of the Wallowas yurt band, known fondly as The Pine Martin Express . The winds had spoken for us about our riding options on day five. We had a good old time and left only the road home ahead of us for Sunday.